Get a clue!

February 11, 2009 at 8:02 pm (1)

Okay, so I recognise that those trying to get in an on the publishing industry might not know the finer details, but phone calls like this make me want to bash my head with the receiver.

random man: Hello.  I’ve just written a book – what’s the next step?

me: Well, the best thing to do is look into getting a literary agent.

rm: I don’t really want to do that.

me: I know that it seems like a roundabout route, but that’s the best way to do it.  A literary agent will submit your manuscript to publishers and do all the legwork for you.

rm: But I rather send it directly to an editor.

me: Well, you could do that, but unfortunately we can’t guarantee that it’ll get read.

rm: Why not?

me: Well, unsolicited manuscripts get set aside and the pile only tends to get read every so often.

rm: But an editor will read it?

me: Not necessarily.  I’m sure that you know that editors are very busy.  Unsolicited manuscripts are usually read by lesser experienced staff.

rm: And how long will it be before it’s read?

me: I can’t really give you a time.  Those manuscripts aren’t really prioritised.

rm: So, like one month?  Six weeks?

me: As I said, I can’t really give you a timeline.  It could be a month, it could be six months.  I really think that looking for a literary agent is the best way to go.  There’s a book called the Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook that will be really useful for you.

rm: I have that book.  That’s where I got your number.

me: Fair enough.  There’s a comprehensive list of agents in there, too.

rm: Yeah, I don’t think I’ll get an agent; I’ll send it to you.  Who should I address it to?

Argh!  I work in the industry, random man, I know what I’m talking about.  You may think that your novel is so amazing that it’ll shine through or that you’re being intensely clever by attempting to bypass the middle man, but it ain’t going to happen!  Slush pile novels do get picked up occasionally, it’s true, and it’s definitely hard getting an agent, but that’s the way it is.  I’m not being mean or negative, I’m trying to help!

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1 Comment

  1. writingminion said,

    That kills me! I don’t get that as much.

    I couldn’t agree more about the path of the would-be-novelist. Everyone knows you need an agent– (they are looking out for their authors, they know how to negoitate, etc) there’s no excuse for not looking that up or following through with querying for one. Also, would-be-writers should be researching which publishers would be suitable for their books, etc. They shouldn’t be cold calling publishing houses regarding submissions. They should know who takes unsolicted manuscripts, what sort of books they publish, what imprints they run, etc. Its called research. Urgh. poor you! You’re not being mean, you’re being honest and that’s so very important.

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